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What if bucket lists were less about endings and more about beginnings?

The 2007 movie, “Bucket List,” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, was a contributing factor to popularizing the concept. If you haven’t seen it, the two men meet after being diagnosed with terminal cancer and head off around the world to fulfill the items they each have on their bucket lists.

Not a bad feel good type movie, but it perpetuates the idea that a bucket list is about endings – about doing things you always wanted because you suddenly recognize, for whatever reason, that you may not be immortal.

Yesterday, I fulfilled one of my bucket list items. I’ve long wanted to try aerial silks. I finally made the time while out of town to go to an introductory session…and I loved it. This morning, as I was researching courses I could take near where I live, I was struck by the realization that completing this bucket list item was not about something coming to an end. Quite the opposite as it turned into a beginning for me.

I looked back further into my life at a time when salsa dancing was on my list of things I’d always wanted to try. I was just beginning to crawl out of the depths of my grief from losing my husband and came face to face with the fact that I was leading a very reclusive life that simply did not include anything fun. It’s hard to imagine having fun as a grieving widow…so it takes conscious effort to change that up.

Like many people, I was under the false assumption that I would need a partner to learn a social dance like salsa. I finally decided to go to an introductory class on my own and take a chance. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was a life changing decision. So much of my grief recovery has come through dance and enhanced my quality of life and the experiences I have.

Crossing salsa dancing off my list created a beginning of something. It wasn’t the end. Of course, not everything on our list of dreams to make come true is something we will want to repeat more than once. But even stand alone events may lead to other beginnings – new friendships, old parts of ourselves rediscovered, new ideas of other experiences we want to have, qualities we never knew we possessed, someone else taking action because you inspired them.

What if I had waited for even later in life to try salsa? So many great moments competing, performing, developing mastery of the dance, and so many great friendships would have been missed. Salsa dancing led to Tango for me. And all these moments led me to creating my well beyond ordinary life.

What is on your bucket list that could lead to new beginnings, new friendships, and a new level of wellbeing? What would give you joy now if you moved it from your list into action? Take that one step and notice what other opportunities it opens you up to.

It took me time and working through my grief recovery process, but taking action with my bucket list has helped me to heal and move forward giving me strategies for living fully and embracing life!

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